Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Will Legislature finally act on affordable housing?

Construction at the West Gateway Place project in West Sacramento, on August 17, 2015.
Construction at the West Gateway Place project in West Sacramento, on August 17, 2015.

Through-the-roof real estate and rental prices have become a fact of life in much of California. Fruitless attempts to do something about it have become a fact of life in Sacramento.

Despite a career-long focus on housing, former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, proved unable to muster enough votes for legislation that would have funded more building with a $75 real estate transaction fee. Affordable housing figured heavily in budget talks last year but, in the end, leadership read funerary rites for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed trade of $400 million in exchange for streamlining the local land use rules for infill projects that contain affordable units.

Now that Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, allowing them to pass measures like Atkins’ housing fee bill without Republican votes, there are rumblings once again about an affordable housing deal. But as a UC Center Sacramento talk today by UCLA urban planning expert Paavo Monkkonen will detail, it’s more complicated than just counting votes in the Legislature.

In a talk moderated by California Department of Housing & Community Development chief Ben Metcalf, Monkkonen will analyze why many California residents fight new development in their backyards despite data suggesting that rigid zoning rules and other policy barriers to new projects exacerbate the housing crunch – a dynamic Brown sought to ease in embracing “by right” land use. Overcoming local opposition to density and development could be key to any sort of housing deal, and Monkkonen will offer some advice for policymakers from noon to 1 p.m. at 1130 K Street.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2.7 million is California’s projected population of senior citizens with disabilities by 2060, almost triple the 2015 figure of 1 million. That’s a higher growth rate than the state’s overall population of seniors during that time, which is projected to grow from 5.2 million to 12.2 million. The numbers are part of a new report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office meant to bring policymakers up to speed on the looming challenge of an older population, many of whom will have disabilities. Not only are seniors projected to make up a much larger share of the state population in 2060 –24 percent compared to 12 percent in 2015 – the ratio of working-age adults to seniors will have declined from an estimated 4.7 in 2015 to 2.3 in 2060.

COWED: Bovine burps have been in the crosshairs of California regulators, who want to reduce methane emissions from a dairy industry that provided California’s most lucrative agricultural commodity in 2015. Today the Air Resources Board is looking at a related issue: the environmental effects of certain kinds of dairy feed, which scientists warn could contribute to high levels of ozone in the dairy-filled San Joaquin Valley. The ARB is sponsoring a seminar on the topic today featuring Prof. Frank Mitloehner, a UC Davis expert on the intersection of agriculture and air quality. Starting at 1:30 p.m. at Cal EPA Headquarters.

QUEST FOR 2030: While the uncertain future of cap-and-trade hangs over the coming legislative session, California is humming along in pursuit of clean energy goals signed into law in 2015. A daylong program put on by the California Energy Commission and various utilities today will marshal energy industry representatives and academics to explore topics like constructing zero net energy buildings, reducing emissions from California’s electricity system and spreading new technology to low-income people. Among those scheduled to speak are California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. At the Sacramento Convention Center.

COMMUNITY PREP: California’s workforce will be short more than a million college-educated workers by 2030, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Policymakers have looked to career-focused education as a way to help supply the state with enough skilled workers, and today PPIC will look at the potential of community colleges training workers to enter the massive healthcare sector. A noon lecture at 1020 11th Street will feature PPIC research fellow Sarah Bohn, Career Ladders Project executive director Linda Collins, Sutter Health workforce development manager Anette Smith-Dohring and Linda Zorn of the California Community Colleges Health Workforce Initiative.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert. Jim Miller of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed reporting.